Boris Johnson says Omicron to bring 'tidal wave' of cases
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Despite a last-minute appeal by Mr Johnson at a meeting of backbenchers just hours before the vote, Conservatives lined up to vote against the Government’s Covid plans. A brutal rebellion saw more than 100 disobey the whip – almost double the size of Mr Johnson’s previous record revolt.
“The whole objective of what we are doing is we are trying to keep things moving,” Mr Johnson told the MPs in a frantic push to keep numbers down.
He warned other countries in Europe had been forced to shut nightclubs due to Omicron and he was eager to use the restrictions voted on tonight to keep society open.
But despite his appeals, the Prime Minister only won the most contentious vote on Covid passports by 369 to 126.
He was forced to rely on Labour’s support to get the measures through the House.
Mr Johnson announced he was introducing extra restrictions last week in a bid to stop the spread of the Omicron variant.
The mutant strain has already rapidly engulfed the UK and has become the dominant form of the virus in some areas.
Total confirmed COVID-19 Omicron cases in the UK so far is 4,713, with figures thought to be doubling every two days.
Officials believe the actual figure is much higher and there could be 200,000 Omicron cases a day.
Last week Mr Johnson announced he was reintroducing face masks for all indoor settings, advising woking from home, and wanted Britons to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to access large events.
Tories reacted furiously when the announcement was first made.
More than 70 Tories had publicly indicated they were planning to vote against the restrictions in the days leading up to tonight’s vote.
Former Conservative cabinet minister Dame Andrea Leadsom described the changes as a “slippery slope which I do not want to slip”.
She said: “This time around the measures proposed are precautionary, just in case, and I cannot see where this will end.
“Covid will be with us for many years to come and it’s unthinkable that every autumn from now on we will be limiting the quality of life for all citizens just to be on the safe side.”
Meanwhile, Mark Harper who leads the lockdown-sceptic Covid Recovery Group group of Tory MPs, demanded the Government “rethink its approach”.
The former chief whip said of passport plans: “They are very limited at the moment about what is proposed, but that was true everywhere they were introduced around the world. Everywhere they have been introduced, they have extended it, in terms of the venues they apply to.
“Anyone who thinks that they are going to stick to what is currently on the order paper, I am afraid are kidding themselves.”
Last night Yeovil MP Marcus Fysh compared the introduction of Covid passes to Hitler’s Nazi regime.
He said: “We are not a ‘papers please’ society.
“This is not Nazi Germany.”
Passports will be a legal requirement for entry to indoor venues containing more than 500 people, unseated outdoor venues with more than 4,000 people, and any venue with more than 10,000 people, from tomorrow.
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